KOBANI SET TO RE-OPEN Fans of Emin Tekin’s kurdish cooking take note: Kobani, which closed for renovations last fall, is set to re-open in the next couple of weeks, according to a tipster who stopped by the restaurant earlier this week. Kobani’s kebabs, hummus, dolmas, lentil soup and gyros received generous praise upon the restaurant’s opening last May. (This editor is a particularly big fan of the tabbouli salad served with Kobani’s gigantic falafels.) We’ve reached out to Tekin for confirmation and any more details, and we will update the post when we hear from him. Kobani is at 1901 University Ave. (at Martin Luther King Jr. Way), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.
GROCERY CAFÉ PLANS TO EXPAND, ADD BARBECUE East Oakland’s popular Burmese restaurant Grocery Café has been on a roll recently. In December, the restaurant secured a deal with Starline Social Club to serve its menu at the club four days a week. Now, owner William Lue has secured a $10,000 Kiva Zip loan to expand the restaurant. He will be adding an outdoor barbecue, rotisserie cooking area and a garden area dining space. The expansion will allow Lue to add additional menu specialties like Burmese barbecue. According to the East Bay Express, Lue’s barbecue items will be mostly grilled meat skewers marinated in aromatics like cilantro, shallots, lemongrass, moringa and tamarind. While these skewers are decidedly not in the same vein as American-style barbecue, Lue hopes to use the rotisserie to roast a suckling pig once a week. In addition, Lue plans to invite the local farmers market to sell produce once a week. Grocery Café is at 2248 10th Ave. (at East 23rd Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.
MODU HOSTING TEMPORARY ‘TEST KITCHEN’ A few weeks ago, we brought you news on Temescal’s Modu restaurant, a pan-Asian fusion restaurant set to replace Kushido in late February. We’ve gotten word from Modu’s Facebook page that Modu will open temporarily as a “test kitchen” for two weeks, starting tonight. Dinner will be served from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. The meals will serve as a preview of the upcoming restaurant’s menu, which will encompass a broad range of Asian influences — ramen, kimchi, and Thai basil will all play a part. There are limited (read: 21) seats, and they’re only available on a first-come, first-serve basis. So if you want to check out Modu’s food before anyone else, you better move fast. Modu will be at 4828 Telegraph Ave. (at 48th Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
TEMPORARILY CLOSED: SIMPLY GREEK South Berkeley’s casual Greek eatery, Simply Greek, appears to be closed — but just for a couple of weeks. Its Yelp page states that the restaurant will re-open Feb. 7. Simply Greek serves a variety of salads, pita sandwiches, burgers and Greek specialties like souvlaki kababs and moussaka. Its gyros, in particular, get high marks from diners. We’ve reached out to the owners for more details, and we will update this post as we learn more. Simply Greek is at 2929 Shattuck Ave. (between Russell Street and Ashby Avenue), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.
EMERYVILLE’S PROPAGANA NOW OPEN Last summer, we announced the pending arrival of a new gastropub, Propaganda, moving into Emeryville. The restaurant is now open. It is the brainchild of Kiet Truong, owner of Region, Co Nam and Unicorn, all in San Francisco, and is located at the City Storage corner space at 40th and Adeline. On the menu is a solid line-up of classic comfort food — everything from corn dogs to lobster mac and cheese. Cocktails also skew classic, with Manhattans, Negronis, and White Russians all headliners. Notably, the beer list includes Alchemist’s Heady Topper, a craft IPA from Vermont with a cult following. The beer is notoriously hard to find outside of New England, and it comes with a hefty price tag: $15. Propaganda is at 4000 Adeline St. (at 40th Street), Emeryville.
BUN MAM SOC TRANG SHUTTERD Bad news for Vietnamese soup fans. East Oakland’s Bun Mam Soc Trang has officially closed, according to the East Bay Express. The restaurant’s last day in business was Dec. 21. Co-owner Hien Tran told EBX that her initial plan was to temporarily close for a holiday break. However, her landlord unexpectedly decided to not renew the restaurant’s lease when it expired at the end of January. Tran said that the landlord was concerned that the “restaurant attracted too many customers for such a small space.” She decided it was simpler to to just remain closed after the holidays. Tran hopes to re-open at a new Oakland location, but she admitted that she finds the current real estate market “daunting.”
ALSO CLOSED: BERKELEY’S TOGO’S The downtown Berkeley location of Togo’s sandwiches has also shut down, according to a tipster and confirmed on Yelp. The West Coast sandwich chain opened at 2172 Shattuck Ave. in November 2013 and served a variety of deli and specialty sandwiches.
PREVIOUSLY ON BERKELEYSIDE: MOKKA, BURRITOS INC., ARABICA: Mokka, the popular coffee shop on Telegraph near Ashby will close, probably in June, due largely to the increased minimum wage, say its owners. Read more in Berkekeleyside story. Burritos Inc., which opened just under a year ago at 2116 Shattuck Ave. near the downtown Berkeley BART, has abruptly shuttered. The restaurant, which offered a range of burritos, bowls, quesadillas, tacos and salads, posted a note on its website saying “Burritos Inc. Adios! Thank you to our fans,” and has a similar goodbye message on its Facebook page from Jan. 17 (pictured right). Berkeleyside was unable to talk to anyone at the restaurant at press time to find out more. [Hat-tip: Mark Giorgi.] Also in downtown Berkeley, Arabica Mediterranean Cuisine has closed after nearly three years at 2115 Kittredge St., the former site of Great China. The restaurant was opened in May 2013 by the owners of Razan’s Organic Kitchen who occupy the neighboring space. No news yet on the reason for the closure. A notice on the door announces that Arabica will be replaced by Tasty Pot, a Taiwanese chain specializing in hot soups and boba milk tea. Tasty Pot already has two other restaurants in California, in Newark and San Jose. [Hat tip: Sean Rouse.] Tasty Pot will be at 2115 Kittredge St. (at Fulton Street), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
What else is going on…
FOOD CRAFT INSTITUTE + THIRD WAVE COFFEE Oakland’s Food Craft Institute is hosting a coffee tasting demo, open house and film screening at its headquarters in Jack London Square Feb. 4 from 6-8 p.m. The night will start with demos from Catracha Coffee Company, Royal Coffee and Sweet Maria’s. A screening of the film “The Way Back to Yarasquin” will begin at 7 p.m. and will be followed with a Q&A with the film’s star, Catracha Coffee Company founder Mayra Orellana-Powell. The screening is only open to 30 guests, so the FCI is asking attendees to register online here. Food Craft Institute is at 65 Webster St. (at Embarcadero), Oakland. Connect with the organization on Facebook and Twitter.
ANOTHER OPEN HOUSE: BERKELEY FOOD INSTITUTE The Berkeley Food Institute is holding its 2016 open house Feb. 5 from 4-6 p.m. at UC Berkeley’s Gianni Hall. The event aims to celebrate “a successful past year and kick off the new semester.” Faculty and staff affiliates, students, and community members involved in food and agriculture issues will be in attendance. The open house will also include a raffle, food and beverages. The BFI was founded by five UC Berkeley schools (The College of Natural Resources (CNR), the Goldman School of Public Policy, the Graduate School of Journalism, Berkeley Law, and the School of Public Health) in fall 2013 to “foster innovative connections between research, education, policy, practice, and social movements to develop and strengthen sustainable food and agriculture systems that are healthy, just, diverse and resilient.” Connect with the Berkeley Food Institute on Facebook and Twitter.